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June 15, 2011 | 2 minute read

Watching Too Much TV Tied to Early Death and Disease

Today’s feature in Cancer Research Update looks at the research suggesting that sitting around a lot – sedentary behavior – may increase the risk of cancer. There’s even more research on the perils of sedentary behavior when it comes to other chronic diseases.

The latest study, a review of the research, suggests that watching too much TV may play a role in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. (TV watching is a common measure of sedentary behavior in studies.)

The analysis found that for each two hours of TV watched per day, the risk of type 2 diabetes increased by 20 percent and cardiovascular disease by 15 percent. The risk of an early death appeared to increase with watching TV three hours daily.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association; here is the abstract.

For type 2 diabetes alone, some of the effect was explained by overweight and obesity.

The JAMA review included eight relatively large studies published from 1970 onwards. As the authors note, that’s not a lot of studies. There’s also several reasons, aside from inactivity, why watching lots of TV may increase the risk of diseases. TV watchers often eat unhealthy foods, for example.

But the evidence on sedentary behavior increasing the risk of several diseases is growing.  And cancer shares many risk factors to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

More research in this field is sure to come.

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